By Tom McDermott | | 5 mins
The Odds Are Stacked against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd
Manchester United returned to pre-season training on Monday morning, but with a tricky start to the Premier League season at home to Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, and many already questioning whether or not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will last the season, the Norwegian may have to look to the Europa League or a domestic cup to ease some of the pressure and expectation.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got off to a sizzling start as temporary United manager last December, winning 12 of his first 15 games in charge.
The run saw him equal the Premier League win record for a new boss after his opening ten games, but after a poor finish to the campaign, which included missing out on a Champions League place, and undoing all that good early work, the eyes of the football world are back on Solskjaer again.
Some sceptics are questioning whether or not the former Cardiff City manager has what it takes to last past Christmas in charge, and one poll overnight was already asking who might last the longest out of Solskjaer and new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
Sack Race Odds 2019-20
|First EPL Manager To Leave||Paddy Power's Odds|
|Ole Gunnar Solskjaer||6/1|
Many United fans are not expecting a top four finish from their team this campaign, which shows just how far the club has fallen since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
Rivals Manchester City and Liverpool now have the trophies, brand of football and managers many United supporters crave, and even though promising young talent, such as Daniel James from Swansea, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace have been added to the squad, will it really be enough to help guide United back into European football’s elite competition?
There’s still over a month to go until the transfer window shuts, and things can change quickly, but of equal concern, is the lack of movement in the departure lounge.
Inter Milan are yet to conclude a deal for Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba has openly stated in an interview of his desire to leave, David De Gea hasn’t signed a new contract that would make him the richest keeper on the planet, and Alexis Sanchez – the highest paid outfield player at the club – just hasn’t performed since his move from Arsenal in January 2018.
And these are just issues the United legend must overcome before a ball is kicked.
Europa League a Target
Jose Mourinho, during his first season in charge, quickly placed all his eggs in the Europa League basket, and you wonder if Solskjaer might be forced into doing the same.
If we are to assume that City, Liverpool and Tottenham will occupy three of the four Champions League spots in the league, the United coaching staff, like the Portuguese manager before them, may regard the Europa League as their most likely and easiest route back to the Champions League.
It’s not the “United way” to admit defeat in the league so early, and you wouldn’t expect Solskjaer to do so publicly, but if the league campaign doesn’t start to plan, what might bide him more time in charge, is a lengthy run in Europe’s second tier competition.
This is all easier said than done of course, because the Europa League is a tougher competition than many give it credit for, although United are one of the favourites at 6/1 with the top bookmakers.
Not only is there a large number of games albeit against weaker opposition, the travel to some of the less famous teams and locations, along with Thursday evening kick-offs, is generally seen as a disadvantage.
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Manchester United Trophy Odds
|League Cup||11/1||Paddy Power|
United haven’t paraded the Premier League trophy around Old Trafford since 2013, and it’s unlikely to be seen in the near future, with online bookies BlackType going as long as 66/1 on that this season.
FA Cup Chance
Former manager Louis van Gaal did win the FA Cup in 2016 though, the first major honour since Ferguson’s retirement. It’s a competition Solskjaer won twice as a player and although it doesn’t provide a route back to the Champions League it might point to some signs of progress.
Although it wasn’t enough for van Gaal to keep his job in the end, Solskjaer has a different relationship with United supporters, and their loyalty will only strengthen with him in charge.
The odds on Solskjaer being a success or getting United back into the top four are stacked against him, and even though he managed to perform miracles as a player, it remains to be seen whether or not he can do the same as a manager.